Councillors in Brighton & Hove consider anti-racist schools plan

Graham Robson November 10, 2020

Councillors in Brighton & Hove are being asked to support the development of a city-wide anti-racist schools strategy, which would see Brighton & Hove City Council‘s (BHCC) education team working in partnership with the Brighton & Hove Educators of Colour Collective (BHECC).

BHECC was founded by a group of staff during the summer to support and empower educators of colour and to support anti-racist action in schools. The Collective has worked with a consultant commissioned by BHCC to draft a strategy with racial literacy training at its centre. Its aims are to prevent and mitigate the racism within the educational system, and support more effectively those in school communities experiencing racism.

The strategy, which would launch in April, would cover all aspects of school life including:
– Reviewing the curriculum and existing school policies
– Training for staff and governors
– Developing pupil and student racial literacy
– Incident reporting and support for BAME pupils and students and their parents.

A report on the proposed strategy is due to be considered by BHCC’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee on Monday, November 9.

Councillor Hannah Clare, chair of the committee, said: “A recent YMCA poll of black children found that 95% of them hear racist language and half think racism is their biggest barrier to success. We cannot let this continue.

“I’d like to welcome the formation of the BHECC and thank them for sharing their expertise and experience and agreeing to work with us on this vital initiative.

“A lot of good work in this area has already begun. For example, PSHE materials are being developed to support secondary students to understand the structural nature of racism.

“The council’s education team is making sure all their staff have received racial literacy training by April 2021.

“This will ensure that all support offered to schools comes from a place of understanding systemic racism and so all can play a part in challenging it.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has energised people all over the world. Action on this issue is well overdue and I look forward to future action being taken to tackle racism in our schools.”

Councillor John Allcock, the committee’s opposition spokesperson, added: “There’s a real momentum in our city and our schools now to make meaningful, structural changes that will start to dismantle racism and improve daily lived experiences and opportunities for our children and young people from black and other ethnic minority communities.

“Pupils do better and feel better at school when they are valued and heard. So this is not just about respect and decency, it’s also about social cohesion and improving academic standards across the city.

“I very much welcome this initiative and am grateful to the BHECC for sharing their voice and leading this work in order to support and enable the council to take the first important steps.”